Maple Shade teen instrumental in helping to get epilepsy bill passed in New Jersey

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A Burlington County teen was instrumental in helping to get a bill designed to help children with epilepsy passed in New Jersey.

Paul St. Pierre is a typical teenager from Maple Shade. He likes to hang out with his friends and play sports. But last year he was also diagnosed with epilepsy.

“I was kind of like shocked and sad because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he says.

St. Pierre’s first few seizures happened in school.

“Paul’s teachers didn’t even know he was having a seizure and the first one I didn’t know either,” says mother Colleen Quinn.

But thanks to new legislation from state Sen. James Beach, “Paul’s Law” could help change the way school staffs are trained.

"The law will create a seizure action plan that's individualized for every student in every school, from the doctor and the parents to the school and then the teachers will have access to read that so they know specifically what to do for each student,” Quinn says.

The bill also mandates epilepsy training for teachers and school staff.

“If this law passes, then I feel more safe, because if they didn’t know and then if I had a seizure, they wouldn’t know what to do,” says St. Pierre.

Maple Shade schools already have such training in place. But the group Epilepsy Services New Jersey says that the law would make a huge impact on other schools.

"Students are spending as many hours at school as they are in the community,” says CEO Liza Gundell. “It's essential that school nurses, school personnel, teachers know what seizures are and how to recognize them and then know what to do if a student or to have a seizure."

But none of this would have been possible without St. Pierre’s help.

“I’m very proud of Paul for all the awareness he’s created, but I’m really happy that we’re protecting 12,000 kids in the state of New Jersey and I think it will help their parents sleep a little easier at night,” says Quinn.

The bill is currently sitting on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk. The governor is expected to sign it on Thursday.

 

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